Thursday, September 13, 2007

A total disregard for democratic procedure

The largest-ever proposed school closure programme in Edinburgh's modern history has just been abandoned after a few weeks of unremitting chaos ... and is it on the agenda at the next Full Council meeting on Thursday 20th September (as variously promised by the new Administration) - well, NO.

Absolutely NOTHING on the agenda about the Estate Rationalisation (school closure!) Programme. NOT A THING.

Completely unbelievable. But true.

Just as well some of the Opposition Groups have called that Special Council Meeting - date set in the middle of the holiday weekend by the Lord Provost remember - to try and extract some accountability out of those in power for just what's happened over the last few weeks. Yet, given there's no actual report to debate on Saturday or next Thursday, I'm now at a loss to know how the affected schools will actually learn what is happening next - other than the abandonment of the closure programme by Press Conference. It's all totally unacceptable.

I got into a spot of bother for my earlier dictatorial references to how this lot operate - but, in all honesty, I'm more convinced than ever that they have a complete and total disregard for democratic procedure.

And it gets worse by the minute - it also transpired today that a significant set of changes has been made to the criteria for allocation of Full-Time Nursery Places without any recourse WHATSOEVER to the elected Members of the Council - NO report, verbal, written or otherwise - to any Council Committee or Meeting. I wonder if the Convener of Education knew anything about it??

Not only have the criteria been secretly changed, but it appears Nursery Heads no longer have the final say in the allocation of Full Time places, but senior management now have to be involved ... good bit of workplace trust and devolution that is :-((

In essence, the central plank of the new Administration's Education policy has gone belly-up ... due entirely to the way they mishandled it ... and they now appear to be thrashing around looking for alternatives to balance the books all over the Department. For example, one report that IS at next Thursday's Full Council meeting does seek agreement (it won't be forthcoming from us) to go ahead and close two community centres (see paragraph 3.32) - no consultation, no certainty on just where those who are currently accommodated are going to go - 'but we'll close them anyhow' ... and that's just the tip of the ice-berg. Do have a read at the rest of the report - here.

I can hear the siren voices already - 'of course, we're only having to do this because of that terrible financial hole we inherited' ... well, blaming your predecessors is easy but it won't be possible for ever and sooner or later it will become apparent that this mess has been the making of THIS Administration and nobody else.

Constructive alternatives were offered and rudely rejected. Revenue options were put forward and refused. And don't forget, that the Department alone has an annual revenue budget of over £300million; the Council's overall annual revenue and capital budget being over £1billion; and that the Council owns over £2billion of fixed assets.

There ARE ways of funding (what are admittedly expensive) services for those most in need - it just needs a bit of political will.

But I'm afraid, to put it simply, the Council is now being run by politicians who don't want to prioritise services for those most in need.

It's now quite obvious they have no intention of seeking to protect such services and, if these first four months are anything to go by then, the next four years are going to pretty damned unpleasant for those who most need this Local Authority's help and assistance. They ain't going to get it.

2 comments:

Pam Canning said...

I am losing all faith in this administration. I don't even see where they are trying to get to, or what they are trying to achieve. We have went from them trying to take money out of education to them now attempting to cut the care of the old and vulnerable.

I am assuming that Health Care is not a local government issue or they would be tying to take money from the babies next.

They are needing to take a long hard look at what savings need to be made and work out where they can make these with the least impact on our most vunerable people.

Andrew said...

Pam

What can I say - especially given today's events (Saturday) - I agree and really think they are simply not coping with the pressures of being in power.

Andrew